A 16-year-old is still on the run and five youths are back in a youth justice facility after six teens escaped on Saturday. The Rotorua Daily Post has learned that during their escape, a staff member was injured.

A staff member at a youth justice centre near Rotorua was injured when six teens escaped.

Oranga Tamariki, which runs Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence on State Highway 30 at Horohoro, south of Rotorua, has confirmed a staff member was injured on Saturday when the youths escaped about 5pm.

A 16-year-old youth is still on the run, four were caught on Saturday and a fifth, aged 16, was arrested last night.


An Oranga Tamariki spokesman said the staff member received minor injuries.

They were taken to Rotorua Hospital by another staff member.

In a response to others questions from the Rotorua Daily Post, Oranga Tamariki youth justice residences general manager Ben Hannifin said he would not say how they escaped for security reasons.

He also would not comment on what injuries the staff member suffered.

"A full review of this incident is under way. We take the safety and security of our staff and young people very seriously and continue to make additional investments in this area to improve. We are constantly reviewing any incidents and all recommendations are built into our work programme," Hannifin said in a statement.

The Rotorua Daily Post asked Oranga Tamariki how the youths escaped, how many staff and security members were working at the time and whether the youths were always secure in the facility or if they could leave if they wanted to.

Those questions were not answered in the organisation's statement, with Hannifin saying they weren't able to discuss specific details.

A Rotorua police spokeswoman said police could not elaborate on whether the youths would face charges relating to the injured staff member.


She said they would likely be charged with escaping custody.

The four that were recaptured on Saturday were found in the area of Tihiotonga on the outskirts of Rotorua, about 2.5km from the facility, with mostly scrub and farmland in between.

Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence when it opened in 2010. Photo / File
Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence when it opened in 2010. Photo / File

The youth residence, which opened in 2010, can have up to 30 young people at various stages of going through the Youth Court, from arrest to serving a sentence, according to Oranga Tamariki's website.

Hannifin said in a statement Oranga Tamariki took incidents like this "extremely seriously". He couldn't comment on how many escapes there were from youth residences but said they were "extremely uncommon".

He said an investigation into what happened had already begun.

Rotorua resident Andrew Pook said he and his family were at their Balwyn Ave home on Saturday about 8.30pm when wife Shona noticed a police wagon in the street.

"I went to have a look and it was parked across the road and I thought that was a bit unusual. There were two youths just casually walking down the road and the police dog ran up to them and they just hopped on the ground pretty quick."

"It was quite exciting actually. We were buzzing out."

He said the dog didn't jump on the youths but seemed pretty chuffed with its efforts.

"It was all a bit dramatic."

Six youths escaped the Te Maioha O Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence and four were found at Tihiotonga. Map / Google Maps
Six youths escaped the Te Maioha O Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence and four were found at Tihiotonga. Map / Google Maps

Pook said they were told the youths escaped in their socks and had got to Tihiotonga by jumping the rear fence of a property on Henare Pl.

He said police were in the neighbourhood going in and out of properties searching until about 11.30pm.

Russel Du Fall, another Tihiotonga resident, told NZME police arrested two of the offenders in his back garden.

His wife saw people clambering over their fence about three hours after the escape.

"They were running towards the bush and I said to my wife, 'Call the cops'," he said.

"I was talking to the police in a matter of minutes and that was when a policeman came over the fence the same way the intruders did, carrying a police dog."

Du Fall said he offered to "set my German Shepherd on them" but a police officer told him not to as they were violent offenders.

He was later frustrated by a lack of police communication about whether the other offenders had been caught.